Technology will recognise us, says Spielberg as ‘Project Natal’ kicks in

2 Jun 2009

Legendary director Steven Spielberg has joined forces with Microsoft to introduce the era of controller-free gaming via a sensor codenamed ‘Project Natal’, as well as bringing social-networking capabilities including Facebook and to its popular Xbox 360 console.

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in San Francisco yesterday, Microsoft introduced a revolutionary new way of playing video games where no controller is required.

The motion sensor is the world’s first to combine an RGB camera, multi-array microphone and custom processor running proprietary software all in one device. Project Natal tracks your full body movement in 3D, while responding to commands, directions and even a shift of emotion in your voice.

If a user sees a ball in a game, they can kick it, hit it, trap it or catch it by moving their body.

“The next step in interactive entertainment is to make the controller disappear,” said visionary director and producer Steven Spielberg. “With Project Natal, we’ll see games that bring everyone together through technology that actually recognises us.”

Unlike other devices, the Project Natal sensor is not light-dependent. It can recognise you just by looking at your face, and it doesn’t just react to key words but understands what you’re saying. Call a play in a football game, and players will actually respond. Want to log onto Xbox Live? Simply step in front of the sensor.

“Today, with cultural visionaries at our side and controller-free gaming on our horizon, Xbox 360 authored a new page in home entertainment history,” said Don Mattrick, senior vice-president for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft, who revealed a line-up of new games including Forza Motorsport 3, Alan Wake, Halo 3: ODST and The Beatles: Rock Band.

“For us, this E3 is about breaking down barriers – between generations, between games and entertainment, and most important, between video game players and everyone else – in a way that only Xbox 360 can.”

The company also revealed a host of groundbreaking Xbox Live services, from instant-on 1080p high-definition (HD) streaming movies and television to Facebook and tailor-made for your TV.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Project Natal in action

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years